Matzo farfel kugel is a perfect side dish for Passover. If you like a kugel with a touch of sweetness, you’ll love the apples, cinnamon and sugar in this recipe. Find more of my Passover tips here and more matzo recipes here!
What is kugel?
Kugel is a Yiddish term referring to a sweet or savory pudding usually prepared with noodles or potatoes. Kugels are very common side dishes at many Jewish holiday celebrations. On Passover, when we traditionally remove all products made with flour from our diet, other than unleavened matzo, matzo farfel kugel often replaces a traditional noodle kugel.
A matzo farfel kugel, like a noodle (lokshen) kugel can be savory or sweet. This post explores a sweet version using apples, raisins, cinnamon and nuts.
What is matzo farfel?
Matzo farfel is just matzo broken up into small pieces. For years, I purchased packages of matzo farfel in the Kosher for Passover section of my local grocery stores. When I started researching how to make a matzo farfel kugel, I realized all I needed to do was roll over some boards of matzo with a rolling pin, and voila – I had matzo farfel!
How do you make matzo farfel kugel?
When I offered to bring kugel to the first night seder, the traditional meal eaten on the first two nights of Passover, I realized I didn’t have a tried-and-true recipe for a matzo farfel kugel. So I started searching my Jewish cookbooks, the Internet, and my recipe files. And into the kitchen I went for some testing.
Sweet or savory? Matzo or potato?
My daughter requested a sweet kugel, rather than a savory one, which is how I chose the matzo farfel route over potato. Apples, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar are natural accompaniments in a matzo or noodle-based kugel. I turned to my well-used copy of The Jewish American Kitchen by Raymond Sokolov for one recipe and then found an interesting apricot-based recipe on the website BakeSpace that used apricot instead of apple.
Moisture in a matzo farfel kugel
I halved both recipes and prepared each one. I had high hopes for the apricot version but was very concerned by the lack of moisture in the mixture. I should have followed my instincts and added more liquid and egg.
The flavor was a hit with my kids but not the texture — it was dense as a brick. On the Passover table – it is the charoset (a fruit and nut mixture) that is supposed to represent the mortar used to make bricks, not the kugel!!
Moisture is especially important in a farfel kugel since matzo doesn’t give off any moisture as a potato does or noodle might. Nor does it have any natural starch residue to hold the kugel together.
So please don’t arbitrarily reduce the eggs – they are needed in this recipe as glue and moisture. See my other matzo farfel recipe for ideas about how to make a kugel with less eggs.
The winning matzo farfel kugel is…
The apple kugel from The Jewish-American Kitchen (by Raymond Sokolov) was the clear winner. Several elements of the recipe stood out to me.
- Layers of apples on the bottom and top lighten it up and provide a nice textural balance to the crunchy farfel.
- The farfel is initially coated with egg and browned in a sauté pan – a nice extra step that could be enhanced further with some flavoring at this stage.
- I was also intrigued by the nut topping which I enhanced by toasting the nuts first.
Tips to help you make this farfel kugel:
- I added cinnamon and my son suggested a hint of nutmeg would be nice too. If you flavor each element – the apples, the farfel, and the nut topping – the kugel really shines.
- Adding 1/2 – 1 cup of raisins and/or dried apricots to the farfel mixture is another way to add flavor, texture, and moisture. Cover the raisins (and apricots) with hot water or some orange juice or sweet red kosher wine – just enough to cover help soften them. Then let them cool and add the liquid and raisins to the farfel mixture. This liquid can replace part of the water called for in the recipe.
- I use real butter when I make kugels because I don’t keep kosher and will mix meat and dairy. But if you are keeping kosher, the recipe does call for margarine, not butter and you should substitute accordingly.
- Don’t buy matzo farfel in a box. It couldn’t be easier to crush up yourself and is much cheaper and fresher. Just put the boards in a plastic bag or between some parchment paper and roll over them with a rolling pin. I found that two standard size matzo boards equal about one cup of matzo farfel.
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Supplies for making matzo farfel kugel
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More Passover recipe inspiration:
Check out my Recipe and Resource Guide for Passover for more seder menu ideas.
Matzo Meal Pancake (also called a Bubula or Chremslach)
Recipes on other blogs:
And if you have any beloved favorites that always find their way to your Passover table, please share them in the comments below! Chag Sameach!
Apple Matzo Farfel Kugel
- 2 cups matzo farfel about 4 boards of matzo
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 medium or 2 large apples peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup toasted ground walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup raisins or dried apricots optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 X 8 baking dish or pie pan equivalent to a 1 quart pan.
Instead of buying pre-made farfel, simply place a few boards in a ziploc bag and use your rolling pin to break them up into little pieces. 2 boards will yield 1 cup of farfel.
Mix the farfel with 2 of the eggs and a teaspoon of the salt and then toast the mixture over low heat in a heavy skillet, mixing frequently to be sure the pieces brown and separate. I found medium low heat worked better than low. Set the pieces aside while you:
In a medium bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 3 tablespoons of the melted and cooled butter or margarine. Add in the toasted farfel mixture and 1/2 cup of water.
In your greased baking dish, layer 1/2 the apple slices and sprinkle them with the lemon juice and a dusting of cinnamon, then add the matzo farfel mixture and then top with the remaining apples. Then sprinkle with the toasted ground nuts and dust it with a bit more cinnamon and pour over the remaining melted butter or margarine.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Adapted from a recipe in The Jewish American Kitchen